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Court nixes challenge to Live Oak's ban on medical marijuana

Live Oak officials welcome a state court decision to dismiss a challenge to the municipality's medical marijuana ban but await a California Supreme Court ruling on the issue involving other cities in the state.

The 3rd District Court of Appeal in Sacramento dismissed on Jan. 28 the appeal filed by Live Oak resident James Maral.

"While we're encouraged that this particular appeal is no longer going forward," City Manager Jim Goodwin said Monday, "the key issue is really what the Supreme Court is going to do."

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments today on whether local governments can ban retail pot dispensaries within their borders. About 200 cities, including Live Oak, and counties already have, according to the pro-dispensary group Americans for Safe Access, but this will be the first time the state high court weighs in on the question even though medical marijuana has been legal in California for more than 16 years.

At stake is the expansion potential or further contraction of an industry that contributes hundreds of millions of dollars to the state economy but operates without clear statewide guidelines and in conflict with federal drug laws.

In Live Oak, Goodwin has noted that grow sites, with tents occupied by people to protect marijuana, were found across from Live Oak High School and near Little League fields. Growers were calling the city to ask about putting up higher fences and using barbed wire to protect their property, the city manager had said.

Live Oak adopted the ban in December 2011 after complaints from 49 residents.

Sutter County Superior Court found in the city's favor but Maral appealed the decision to the state appellate court in Sacramento. Maral has said he uses marijuana after an accident crushed his leg and blew out six discs in his back.

Oakland attorney John Fuery, who represented Maral in the appeal, did not respond Monday to requests for comment about the state court decision.

CONTACT Ryan McCarthy at rmccarthy@appealdemocrat.com or 749-4780. Find him on Facebook at /ADrmccarthy or on Twitter at @ADrmccarthy.


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